Newave cartoonist and painter Bob X interviewed on YouTube
Newave! Launch Party
January 30, 2010
I indulged myself and drove up to Seattle with my wife and daughter last weekend for the launch party for Michael Dowers' Newave! hardcover at the Fantagraphics Bookstore. I first caught the self-publishing bug in the late 60s when I discovered fanzines, but when I saw my first mini comix—before the term newave had been coined—that's when I really got hooked. Although I corresponded with a dozen or so newave cartoonists back in those days, I'd never met any of them face-to-face. Okay, I met one, Steve Willis, at the Olympia Comics Fest a couple of years back.
And speaking of Mr. Willis, there he was at the book launch. He told me his computer had recently died and he was off the grid. No more OlyBlog entries for now. Maybe he won't even get another computer. He's writing articles out in long-hand for a local newspaper and drawing again. Let's hope it's that Morty the Dog graphic novel we've all been dreaming of.
Steve Willis signs a copy of Newave!
Larry Reid displayed several pieces of original art on the wall above the table with hot-off-the-press copies of the nearly 900-page volume. They weren't necessarily pages from the book, but they were comix from the newave era. I was particularly happy to see one penciled by Al Greenier and inked by Michael Roden. The case Steve is using to sign a copy of the book (above), housed several mini comix including Ulysses by David Lasky.
JR Williams and Kelly Froh
The Friends of the Nib was well represented at the event. Kelly Froh, who's created some wonderful mini comix like Debbie's Story, The Cheapest SOBs, and Slither was on hand. She's working on a mini called The Former Roommates of Gary Jones. It features 21 profiles, with brief recollections from Gary, about many of the roommates he shared his apartment with over a 10-year period. She's also doing a book about senior citizens she's known called The Greatest. But that's not all, she's also working on a project about her move out west, in 1994, from the great state of Wisconsin.
I first met Scott Faulkner last April when he and several other Nibsters came down to Stumptown. It was great to see him again. He's working on a new webcomic that will be starting soon. I believe it's called Rojo. Keep an eye on his blog Vinylsaurus Industries for updates.
Mark and Kaija Campos
I missed meeting Marc Campos last April, so I was delighted to finally get to shake his hand at the party. Among Mark's many projects is Moxie, My Sweet, an anthology he wrote that's illustrated by David Lasky, Stefan Gruber, Kaz Strzepek, Dalton Webb, Tatiana Gill, Elijah Brubaker, Scott Faulkner and Sarah Galvin. It's a wonderful book, available from his publishing company FineComix. Mark also is an avid blogger on LiveJournal. In fact, I learned from his blog some of the other cartoonists at the event were Jim Blanchard, Dave Lasky, and Wayne Gibson. I missed meeting them because the evening went by much too fast, but also, I had no idea what they look like. I did recognize Peter Bagge across the room, but didn't get a chance to introduce myself. I was able to meet Mark's wife Kaija Campos, who told me about her collage art. Mark sent me one of her color pieces—a wonderful image I thought was printed on a press—but nope, color laser.
At last I got to meet the editor, Michael Dowers. He signed my copy and we chatted a bit about some of the cartoonists in the volume like Bob Vojtko, Artie Romero, Rick Geary, and Clay Geerdes.
I think Michael had a little bit of opening night jitters, but he was very happy to see how well the book was received by the crowd. His daughter's band supplied live music for the event.
He created a special promotional mini comix for the event and was busy folding and stapling them to pass out as souvenirs. Michael was interviewed days before the party on Publicola, which features a little of the artwork on display at Fantagraphics.
Lucky for me, I also met Al Greenier. He surely won the prize for longest distance, traveling all the way from Connecticut to celebrate the Newave! debut! Al and Tom Hosier start off the volume with Purple Warp #1 and #7. Al said he dropped out of the comix scene years ago, but this book launch was such a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime event, he just had to make the trip. I agree, and I'm sure glad I was able to meet him.
Pat Moriarity and Richard Krauss
Finally, I got to meet Pat Moriarity. I first saw his work in the mini comix Drifting with Buzzy Linhart. Pat's tapped into the music scene and the comix scene, so a lot of his work unites the two worlds. He's a regular contributor to Mineshaft and has drawn a case full of CD covers. He also drew those terrific Tijuana Bible covers for Fantagraphics. He's currently working a new comix that will include a CD of all new recordings.
So what about the book itself? It's tiny, but huge. It fact, the first thing that comes to mind when you see it is a big little book. It's only slightly larger than one. I was surprised to see the glossy paper stock inside, making it considerably heavier than a BLB.
Rather than select particular pages from newave mini comix (which were nearly all 8 pages in length), Michael hit on the idea to reprint them entirely. He said the hardest part of the project was cutting it down to its nearly 900 pages.
I'd guess that Newave! reprints about 800 pages of comix. Interspersed between them—often introducing them—are full page photographs of some of the era's most prolific cartoonists, along with commentary or article reprints—and in some cases interviews. Most of it is black-and-white, but there's an eight page section in full color that reprints the rare originals that actually had a color cover. The book was never intended to be a definitive sampling of the hundreds of cartoonists who participated in the newave era. It's simply a representative collection of the explosion of work that came out of the earlier underground comix movement and the advent of low-cost printing and copying. The book's dedication is in memory of Michael Roden, Clay Geerdes, and R.K. Sloan.
I was an avid reader of Clay's Comix World during the 70s and bought quite a number of mini comix. As I flipped through the book for the first time I was amazed that for every one I'd read, there were five or six I'd never seen. As Michael points out in this introduction, these books had very low print runs, usually between 25 to 100 copies. If you're lucky enough to find any of the originals for sale, you're likely to pay $15 or $20 apiece. This volume reprints around 100 of some of the best minis the newave era spawned. It's an amazing collection for its $24.99 price tag. I hope Fantagraphics sells so many, they'll want to publish a second volume.
All of us newavers owe Michael Dowers and Fantagraphics a huge debt of gratitude. Michael spent two years putting the project together. It's an impressive tribute to that little-known era. At last, there's a substantial record of that little slice of comix history with a distribution magnitudes larger than the originals.
Here's a few more links: Contents page, video preview, and Fantagraphics.
Robin McConnell interviewed Michael Dowers, Mary Fleener, Wayno, and Colin Upton on the Inkstuds comic book radio show.
Michael Dowers interviewed on The Daily Cross Hatch
Part 1 and Part 2
Tim O'Shea interviews Michael Dowers at Robot 6
Reviews of Newave!
Mini Comix of the 1980s
Avoid the Future
by Rob Clough
by R. Krauss
by Tom Spurgeon
Daily Cross Hatch
by Brian Heater
Mania Beyond Entertainment
by Chad Derdowski
Now Read This!
by Win Wiacek
Mad Comix Ride